A ceremony has been held at Mutitjulu today to mark the 30th anniversary of Uluru-Kata Tjuta being handed back to the Anangu people.
Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Nigel Scullion, attended the ceremony and presented framed photographs from the 1985 handback to families involved and unveiled a temporary plaque which will be replaced in due course by a community-approved permanent memorial.
“On this day, at this place, 30 years ago, the then Governor-General Sir Ninian Stephen passed over the title deeds of Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park back to the Anangu people,” Minister Scullion said.
“On the same day, Anangu signed a 99-year lease with the Director of National Parks to manage the park for conservation and for all Australians.
“This was an historic moment for this community and for all Australians and is one of the most important milestones in the history of Aboriginal land rights in this country.”
Minister Scullion said the handback was the result of more than 35 years of campaigning for the Anangu to be recognised as the park’s traditional owners.
“Sadly many of the original visionaries from 1985 have passed on, but I salute them all for this incredible gift, not only to their children and children’s children, but to all Australians.
“Today is a bitter sweet moment to celebrate what was achieved 30 years ago but to reflect on how little has changed for Mutitjulu. We need to work closer with the community to realise the aspirations of that day.
Minister Scullion said negotiations involving traditional owners, community members, Parks Australia and the Central Land Council were well advanced to create a sublease at Mutitjulu.
”I want to see the sublease in place to empower Mutitjulu’s community members and land owners with localised decision-making about the use of their land, and enable them to take advantage of the economic development opportunities offered by Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.”